£5bn price tag for Thames crossing planned to relieve QEII bridge

One option would pass through undeveloped land that is designated as Green Belt

Options for a new River Thames road crossing include a scheme that would pass through "environmentally sensitive areas" and could cost as much £5 billion, the Government revealed today.

This scheme - one of three options now out for public consultation - could see the building of a new road linking the M25 north of the Thames in Essex with the M2 south of the river in Kent.

The longest of the three options, this Option C route will pass through undeveloped land that is designated as Green Belt.

The consultation document released today went on: "A route at this location would also pass through environmentally sensitive areas, including the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, ancient woodland and the Thames Marshes Ramsar site, where development would need to be proven to be of "overriding public interest" before it could go ahead.

"Overall, Option C would result in the greatest impacts on environmentally sensitive areas of all the options."

The Option C capital cost would be between £3.1 billion and £3.2 billion.

There is also a variant to Option C which would include the widening of the A229 between the M2 and the M20 in Kent, effectively providing a new direct link road from the M25 all the way south to the M20.

The capital cost of this variant would be between £4.9 billion and £5.0 billion.

Announced today by Roads Minister Stephen Hammond, the other two options are:

* Option A - a crossing at the site of the existing A282 Dartford-Thurrock crossing that links the M25 north of the river in Essex with the M25 south of the Thames in Kent.

* Option B - Connecting the A2 Swanscombe Peninsula in Kent with the A1089 in Essex.

Option A's capital cost is between £1.2 billion and £1.8 billion, while Option B's capital cost is between £1.8 billion and £2.2 billion.

The consultation document said that as Option C and the Option C variant costs were so much greater than for the other options, "this may mean that any revenues received from crossing users are not sufficient to meet the total project costs over the projected length of the project concession".

It went on: "Additional financial support may therefore be required from public finances in the event that the Government chooses to develop Option C or the Option C variant."

The document said that each location option was likely to be feasible to deliver, in terms of construction, value for money and financing and that each location option had been shown to reduce congestion at the existing crossing, albeit to varying extents.

Mr Hammond said today: "With traffic levels expected to increase by a fifth over the next 30 years, it is vital we take action now on the future of a new Lower Thames crossing to make sure that our road network is able to meet the future economic needs of the country."

He went on: "There are some tough decisions to be made, but this is the first step in making sure that the residents, businesses and motorists who rely on the crossing receive the service they expect and deserve in the years to come.

"I encourage anyone who uses the existing crossing or has an interest in the location of the new crossing to let us have their views on these proposals. This will enable us to make the right decision on the location of the new crossing."

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "This is a critical crossing on one of the busiest routes in the country, if not the continent.

"Yet much of the congestion is of the Government's own making thanks to the archaic toll booths which routinely bring traffic to a standstill. The introduction of the long-discussed free-flow payment system will help, but it is welcome that ministers are looking to the future and recognise that traffic is set to increase significantly."

He went on: "The big question is how the scheme will be funded. As with the existing crossing the suspicion will be that drivers will pay for any extra capacity through charges - charges which will remain in place long after the project is paid for."

Freight Transport Association road network management policy head Malcolm Bingham said: "There is absolutely no doubt that improving capacity and easing congestion at Dartford is essential, but we have to ensure that the best option is selected, providing real relief on this important national artery."

PA

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor